Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Towns on playing with Gobert, “His strengths are my weaknesses and his weaknesses are my strengths”

Kurt Helin runs through his thoughts on the NBA's hierarchy for the 2022-23 season, with the Warriors atop the list and the Clippers regaining their spot among the league's elite.

“It’s go time.”

That’s the kind of confident, optimistic statement you’d expect from someone who just signed a four-year, $224 million contract extension. But for Karl-Anthony Towns to say it Friday in Minnesota still carried weight — it hasn’t been “go time” for the Timberwolves in a long while.

With Towns locked in, Anthony Edwards on the rise, and now Rudy Gobert on the roster, this could be the best Timberwolves team in a long time. Maybe ever. Towns recognizes that and leaned hard into the optimistic outlook.

“This is it,” Towns said. “The trade happened. There’s no more time, there’s no more excuses. We got to get it done now. So I’m gonna go out there and, you know, it’s championship now or bust, so gotta go out there and get the job done.”

Towns spoke at a press conference to officially announce his signing of a max extension (which has a player option in the final year). However, much of the focus was on his fit with Gobert — two of the league’s elite centers in a twin-towers concept. While most of the NBA leans into the space and pace of “small ball” the Timberwolves have gone big.

“His strengths are my weaknesses and his weaknesses are my strengths,” Towns said. “So we’ll be able to play off of each other.”

Towns envisions an offense that will be hard to stop.

“A four/five pick and roll, you’re gonna have to guard both of us,” Towns said of himself and Gobert. “Ant is the wing waiting for that wing kick out. Now he has a one-on-one against anybody with no paint protection, so could look really nice for him.”

It’s Towns’ skill level and versatility as a big man that will make it work, coach Chris Finch said.

“Well, I think the beauty of Karl’s game is he’s not one-dimensional. He’s not two-dimensional. He’s a multi-dimensional player,” Finch said. “I think there’s aspects to his game that we can still unlock, move them in different spots on the floor, maybe put him in actions that people have his size generally are not in — that’s a luxury we have. It’s the fun part where you think about what we might be able to do there. You know, defensively we’re gonna have to get a bit creative.”

This kind of event, especially during the middle of the offseason, is fertile ground to plant seeds of optimism and high expectations. The harsh reality of games — with their wins and losses and exposed weaknesses — is months away. Towns was planting those optimistic seeds every chance he got.

“I expect a lot of winning for sure...” Towns said of playing with Gobert. “I’m not up here just blowing smoke. I really want to try to bring the championship run here to Minnesota and I think that Rudy adds a huge component to that. You know, he’s going to be a massive part of us being a championship team.”

Towns also pointed to the young Timberwolves’ playoff experience against the Grizzlies — even though they lost the first-round series — as a stepping stone.

“I think that the last playoff series was really good for us because they gave us a lot of experience,” Towns said. “We had a bunch of young guys Jaden [McDaniels] and Jaylen Nowell, Nas [Reid], everyone got a lot of experience from it. Understood what Coach Finch was preaching every day about the little things are gonna add up when we need the wins.”

While walking away from north of $200 million seems hard to fathom now, this extension was far from a lock, even just a year ago. Towns was a player on many other teams’ watch lists — was he happy? Did he want to stay in a place where roster and front-office turnover was the norm? Could he be poached?

Towns said the success of last season — winning 46 games, making the playoffs — made the decision to sign this contract even easier.

“We set out to go out there and make noise and make sure that everyone knew exactly this ain’t the Timberwolves that they’re used to,” Towns said. “And we’ve done that. Everyone’s very aware and they’re going in the offseason thinking about how they’re going to beat us. So why not keep that momentum going?...

“Why not bring a championship, or bring that basketball that the fans and everyone here has been yearning for so much. Let’s bring it back.”

It’s another seed of optimism.

We’ll see how that seed grows when winter hits Minnesota, but on a warm summer day it was taking root with a fan base yearning for a winner.